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Unemployment Insurance and Optimal Taxation in Search Models of the Labor Market

  • Athanasios Geromichalos

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

In many search models of the labor market, unemployment insurance (UI) is conveniently interpreted as the value of leisure or home production and is, therefore, treated as a parameter. However, in reality, UI has to be funded through taxation that might be distortionary. In this paper, I analyze the welfare implications of different taxation systems within two equilibrium models of unemployment: random search and directed search. In a random search model without taxes, efficiency is typically not achieved, unless the so-called Hosios condition is satisfied. If the bargaining power of firms is large, a lump-sum tax can discourage firms from entering and improve welfare. In a directed search model without taxes, constrained efficiency is always achieved. Since firms “direct” workers to apply to them by posting wages, raising UI funds in a lump-sum manner always distorts the efficient allocation, as it gives firms an incentive to be excessively aggressive in their attempt to maximize the probability of filing up their vacancies. I discuss two ways through which this externality can be internalized and efficiency can be re-established.

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Paper provided by University of California, Davis, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1218.

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Length: 30
Date of creation: 24 Sep 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:12-18
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  1. Mikhail Golosov & Pricila Maziero & Guido Menzio, 2013. "Taxation and Redistribution of Residual Income Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(6), pages 1160 - 1204.
  2. Geromichalos, Athanasios, 2012. "Directed search and optimal production," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(6), pages 2303-2331.
  3. Benjamin Lester, 2011. "Information and Prices with Capacity Constraints," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1591-1600, June.
  4. Manolis Galenianos & Philipp Kircher, 2009. "Directed search with multiple job applications," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 29702, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Jan Eeckhout & Philipp Kircher, 2010. "Sorting versus screening: search frictions and competing mechanisms," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 29704, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, June.
  7. Benoit Julien & John Kennes & Ian King, 2000. "Bidding for Labor," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(4), pages 619-649, October.
  8. Jacquet, Nicolas L. & Tan, Serene, 2012. "Wage-vacancy contracts and coordination frictions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(3), pages 1064-1104.
  9. Coles, Melvyn G. & Eeckhout, Jan, 2003. "Indeterminacy and directed search," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 111(2), pages 265-276, August.
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